Friday, September 29, 2006

Warwick Words Festival

Just to let folks know I'll be reading some poems of mine at the Warwick Words Festival next weekend, on Saturday 7th October.

It won't be a lengthy reading as it takes place in the Thomas Oken Tea Rooms next to Warwick Castle and is part of the 'Poetry Cafe' which is running there throughout the Festival. If you're in or around Warwick next Saturday and would like to hear me read - and maybe stick around afterwards and say hi - then I'd be pleased to see you there.

The reading should take place between 1.30 - 2pm and is free, though their tea and scones probably won't be. There'll be other local poets performing or reading their work all that day and on Thursday and Friday too, if you're interested in coming along for the whole Festival.

For more information on all the other workshops and poetry/literary events available that weekend, try the Warwick Words website.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Who else should you be reading?

I have just, whilst trying to avoid writing my novel, found this great website at where you type in the name of a favourite author and the website will instantly generate the names of other authors read by people who like that author's books. It sounds a little dull, put like that - it's not, damn it! - but just go and try.

Personally, I think it's rather cool, especially the way the names sort of starburst and jiggle about on the page as they spread further and further away from the original named author. It's like a bomb going off and the bits flying everywhere. But in slow motion. And without hurting anyone. Hard to explain, better just go see what I mean - here's the link:

I'm not listed by the way. Sob.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Autumn Launch dates for BOUDICCA & CO.

Here are some forthcoming performance dates for the autumn launch of BOUDICCA & CO., to be updated nearer the time. Please see the News page on my website for full details.

Copies of my new poetry collection BOUDICCA & CO. should be available at most of these events, but if you want one and can't make it to a reading, you can buy it online at a discount by visiting Salt Publishing.

Thursday 5th October NATIONAL POETRY DAY
Rugby Library
Afternoon Reading at Poetry Cafe, with Q&A session

Saturday 7th October
Warwick Festival
Lunchtime cafe reading, guest poet

Friday 13th October
Electric Cinema, Birmingham
Finale to the Birmingham Book Fair
& End of Laureateship Party
36 performers through to last 6

Sunday November 5th
Buzzwords, Cheltenham
Evening workshop
followed by guest poet slot with open mic

Date to be finalised (Saturday nights)
The Cellar, Poetry Society Cafe, London
Guest poet


Thursday, September 07, 2006

First Day at School

My youngest started nursery school for the first time this week. She looks so cute in her little outfit - sparkling clean for once - and Bang-on-the-Door bag. (Which is apparently a lunch bag rather than a school bag proper, but I've never been terribly good at getting these minor details right. A bag is a bag is a bag, right?)

Anyway, here she is, never to be the same again, bursting with cuteness and first-day-at-schoolness. Those other kids won't know what hit them ...

Sunday, September 03, 2006

The "Apples" Poem

I've been trying to place this poem of mine, entitled 'Apples", for over a year now. It takes months to get replies from most poetry magazines, of course, but all the same, I do love this particular poem and am really quite disappointed that none of the editors I tried took a shine to it. Though perhaps I like it too much and therefore can't see if or where it fails as a piece of writing. Or maybe the editors just weren't the right type for this poem. Whatever.

There is perhaps an air of late fifties and early sixties' nostalgia about this poem, as if it had come straight out of that era, and perhaps it did, in a way, with echoes of other famous poems about horses written about that time. It has an unusually gentle and domestic feel to it, which is rather out of step with many of the poems I've written over the past ten years.

Maybe I'm mellowing at last ...

Anyway, 'Apples" will be published soon enough in my new poetry collection, BOUDICCA & CO., due out from Salt in a few months' time - which basically means I can't submit it to a magazine now, with book publication so close at hand. So I'm posting the poem up here on my blog instead, with this photograph of last year's apples in my own back garden to accompany it.



The horses come here for apples twice a day,
nudging the fence and rubbing themselves
against trees, trampling earth
with their hunters’ hooves while they wait.
At first we fed them with palms held flat,
away from the substantial teeth and those warm
brownish lips lifting up to reveal them.
But one always dropped his apple
into white-flowered nettles under the fence
and the other would stoop
to retrieve it, thick sinewy neck supple
as a giraffe’s. So now we roll them into the field
or throw them, over-arm, so they bounce
and split soft apple everywhere.
Some days the children are outside playing
and I lift them up, let the baby
grab at a sleek nose with her clumsy fingers
while the boys stare, mesmerised
by the moist brown eyes and those lashes -
like false ones! - seductively curling.
The gentler one comes on his own sometimes,
whinnying and snuffling at the fence.
He turns a wide circle under the horse-chestnut
before moving on, apples
just out of reach and no one in the garden.